Las Vegas is a very popular tourist destination, whether it’s for conventions, quick weekend getaways, or to visit nearby attractions like Red Rock Canyon or Hoover Dam. As a result, Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other city in the United States (about 150,000 rooms). In addition to hotel rooms, Airbnb and Vrbo boast over 7000 listings in the Las Vegas area. So you might think you can get a last minute hotel deal in Vegas. It makes sense that unsold rooms would be offered at a lower price to fill rooms.
Maybe this used to be the case. Perhaps the Covid pandemic changed things quite a bit. But I’m here to let you know it is now nearly impossible to get a last minute hotel deal in Vegas. In fact, I found that the longer I waited to book a room in Las Vegas, the higher the “per night” cost, even as late as 6:00 pm on the day I needed a room. So what does that mean for you if you are hoping to make a trip to Las Vegas?
Don’t wait till the last minute for rooms in Vegas
Just don’t. Prices per night will begin rising sharply 13 days beforehand. They’ll be even higher within a week. And guest what? Wait till the day of and prices will probably double again! Can they do that?! Well, yes, they can, and apparently, they do. I even tried calling a hotel directly and having a little chat. It went like this:
Me: “Your rooms usually run about $120 per night. Now, I can only find rooms for $450 per night, and they’re not suites. They’re just normal rooms.”
Hotel: “Yes, those are the best rates we currently have.”
Me: “Are there any discounts applied to unsold rooms on the day of? Or do you have senior discounts, AAA discounts, media discounts, etc?”
Hotel: “We don’t discount rooms on the weekends at all. Our quota for discounted rooms is filled. If you had reserved a room a few weeks ago, you might have received a better rate.”
Me: “Is the hotel likely to sell out all of its rooms for this weekend? Certainly, you can offer a lower rate if you still have unsold rooms, right?”
Hotel: “I’m sorry. That’s not likely. Would you like to book a room for a few weeks from now?”
Me: “Umm…that’s not going to work. Thanks, anyway.”
And since, you can book most hotel rooms and get a refund if you cancel, you might as well book ahead, even if you’re not sure you’re going to end up going to Las Vegas.
Don’t plan to use discount apps like HotelsTonight
There are a lot of discount sites and apps that can help you find cheaper hotel rooms at the last minute. Apps like HotelsTonight, Hopper, and Priceline plus websites like Vegas.com. I downloaded several apps to my phone and tried them all. Even though I checked every day the week before I needed a hotel room, prices never dropped. I thought if I were patient, I’d be rewarded with a deeply discounted price for booking at the last minute. Nope! If I had driven into Las Vegas, expecting to snag a great deal when I arrived, I would have been sleeping in my car. There’s no way I’d be spending $400-$700 a night for a hotel room. I mean, who can pay that? Especially for a 2-Star hotel!
Here are some of my screen shots from HotelsTonight, Hopper, or Priceline. Note how the room at A Fisher’s Inn continued to go up in price! If you reserve a room at A Fisher’s Inn a month or two in advance, room rates are $150 per night.
So, I actually never benefitted from using any of these apps. Please comment below if you’ve had any luck with them.
Don’t count on alternative lodging either
I can actually be pretty flexible. I was willing to stay in a room at an Airbnb with a shared bathroom. I was willing to stay at a hotel an hour away from Vegas. Heck, I was even willing to stay at a campground in a tent on an air mattress! You may be shocked to learn that at the last minute, even campgrounds near Vegas were charging $200 per night. I was stunned. I have never in my life experienced this kind of difficulty finding an affordable room. Finally desperate, I even looked into hostels. Same thing. Super overpriced, and the pics looked pretty sketchy.
And just so you don’t think I missed some options, of course I also tried time-share rentals, VRBO.com, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Kayak.com and Momondo.com.
So what are your options?
In my case, I needed to be in Las Vegas early on a Sunday morning to hear a family member speak in church. The drive from my home to Las Vegas is about 5 hours. I realized I could have forgone a good night’s sleep and left my home at 3:00 am. Maybe there would have been hardly any traffic (trying to find the silver lining here!). I guess I could have slept in my car if I didn’t get caught and asked to move on. Maybe I could have stayed in a hotel two or more hours away for a nearly reasonable price…again getting up much earlier than I preferred, to finish the drive to Vegas. And finally, I could call a friend and ask for a favor. That’s ultimately what worked for my husband and I, and it turned out great because it was fun to see our friends. But maybe you don’t have any friends living in the Las Vegas area.
What if you’re a high-roller gambler? Can you get a free room then? Well, I personally don’t support the idea of gambling at all. Casinos are not my thing in Vegas. But I’ve heard the best you can get by spending a lot of money at a casino is a free buffet or beverages. So…no point in trying it.
The bottom line is…no, you can’t get a last minute hotel deal in Vegas. If you know you’re going to be making a trip to Las Vegas, for any reason, you’ve got to be on top of things for booking a room. You’ll get the best rates when you book ahead of time — at least two weeks but much earlier than that during busy times of the year. One to three months out is the best time to book rooms in Vegas, or even up to six months for the busiest times. If there’s anyway to take your getaway trip during the week instead of on a weekend, you’ll save a LOT of money.
And when are the busiest times in Las Vegas?
- During large conventions, like the Consumer Electronics Show in early January
- Major holidays, especially New Year’s Eve, Spring Break, Halloween, and Christmas
- Weekends (Friday & Saturday)
- Major events, like Super Bowl or a major celebrity concert
Weather also makes a difference. Since Las Vegas is so hot in the summer, less people travel there for outdoor adventures at that time. You might be able to get less expensive rooms when the temperatures soar to 110 degrees F.
How should you book a room?
My personal favorite is usually Booking.com. I like the fact that you rarely have to put any money down up front, and most bookings can be cancelled up to the day before without penalty. A lot of listings include perks like free breakfast and free parking, too.
When you do make a reservation, be sure to read the fine print. I found it is common in Las Vegas to list the price for a room and then add “resort fees” on top of that. Resort fees can be as much as an additional $45 per night. So, look for rooms that do not have resort fees.
Now that I know what I do, I won’t expect to find a last minute hotel deal in Vegas. I’ll plan ahead for sure. I trust that you will be successful in reserving a room you can afford, so you can enjoy your getaway!
Note: Since Booking.com is my favorite hotel booking site, I have signed on as an affiliate partner. If you do book lodging with Booking.com through my link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps pay for my blog expenses, and I’ll be very grateful!